The Government has relaxed many of the national coronavirus lockdown restrictions since the height of the pandemic. Instead, it has sought to control outbreaks in specific areas with ‘local lockdowns’. This article examines the legislative framework around local lockdowns and the parliamentary scrutiny they have undergone.

The coronavirus lockdown was introduced to reduce the spread of the disease. However, it also gave rise to substantial costs, both to the economy and in areas such as health, education, domestic violence and inequality. This article considers one analysis of these costs and how they compare to the benefits of the lockdown. This is the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 28 July 2020.

The next UK-wide census was due to take place in March 2021. However, the Scottish Government has recently announced that the census in Scotland will be delayed until 2022. This article, marking the centenary of the Census Act 1920, considers the implications of the Scottish announcement and also other policy developments relating to the forthcoming census.

  • In Focus

    A range of data is available to measure child poverty. This article looks at official statistics on children in low income households with someone in work. It then considers Government policy in the area, and also discusses the possible impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Child poverty in working households is the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 15 July 2020.

  • In Focus

    Aviation has been one of the hardest hit sectors in the coronavirus pandemic. This article looks at Government support for airlines and also at criticisms of policies such as the quarantine. It then considers debates about airlines’ reactions in areas such as employment and customer refunds. The impact of the pandemic on airlines is the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 29 June 2020.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    This article summarises a selection of commentaries on monetary financing, which is the central bank creating money on which interest is not paid. It sets out the pros and cons of the monetary financing approach, and discusses proposals for mitigating some of the risks involved. It also considers arguments that the Bank of England’s existing policy of quantitative easing (QE) is a form of monetary financing.

  • In Focus

    The Government’s furlough scheme helps companies retain staff during the pandemic. This article considers proposals for a similar system covering physical premises, whereby the Government would help pay rent and services charges for companies in certain sectors. Similar schemes operate in Denmark and Sweden. The Government has not responded directly to the proposals, which are the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 15 June 2020.

  • Research Briefing

    Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had major implications for the UK economy. There have been debates about a number of possible changes to economic policy when the UK enters the recovery phase. These include: possible major reforms to fiscal policy; whether the Government should facilitate the reallocation of jobs and capital away from the hardest hit sectors of the economy; what measures could be taken if the virus exacerbates inequalities in the UK; and whether the recovery is an opportunity to bring about fundamental changes in the economy and society.

  • In Focus

    The British Business Bank operates a series of loan schemes to support companies during the pandemic, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). This article summarises the schemes and policy debates around them. It includes data on loan take-up up to 22 April. Coronavirus support through the British Business Bank is the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 30 April 2020.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    These articles consider the effect of coronavirus, first, on the UK economy; and second, on global poverty. On the UK economy it summarises two commentaries that attempt to draw lessons from the earlier pandemics, but reach different conclusions. On global poverty, it reports two estimates of the implications of the pandemic for developing countries and for the UN sustainable development goal to eliminate extreme poverty.

  • In Focus

    Most official data is produced with a lag, making timely assessments of the economic impact of coronavirus difficult. The disruption may also have made it harder to collect accurate statistics. This article looks at a new set of indicators that the Office for National Statistics has produced to address these issues. It also reports suggestions for other measures to shed light on the impact of the pandemic, including from countries.

  • In Focus

    This article considers the role of the banking sector in the UK’s response to coronavirus. It describes key policy announcements in relation to the banks, many of which are intended to support the wider economy. It also reports some ways in which the banks themselves have responded, including on overdrafts and branch opening hours. Finally, it summarises some criticisms of the sector’s activities in relation to the pandemic.

  • In Focus

    This article looks at the Government’s role as ‘insurer of last resort’. Over time, the areas where it takes this role have expanded from basic military, health and welfare provision to include, for example, elements of flood, terrorism and travel risks. Coronavirus has widened this scope further. The article also considers the costs of providing cover, and whether the private sector might cover more of the risks arising from pandemics.